Two and a half millennia ago, the artifact appeared in a remote corner of space, beside a trillion-year-old dying sun from a different universe. It was a perfect black-body sphere, and it did nothing. Then it disappeared. Now it is back.
©1996 Iain M. Banks (P)2013 Hachette Digital
"Gripping, touching and funny." (TLS)
"A dizzying adventure." (Daily Mail)
"Explosive but tender." (Sunday Times)
This book is classic sci-fi covering all scales. There are human stories, various races, Culture Ship Minds and even, from certain viewpoints, the microscopic. Although it contains a huge amount of technical information on the Ships (the story being largely concerned with these) it never becomes bogged down in pointless detail and remains constantly fascinating. It treads a fine line between fleshing out the Culture universe as a whole and maintaining a strong element of mystery. It's great to see the all-powerful and infinitely intelligent ship Minds totally stumped and humbled by something they can't even begin to explain.
Peter Kenny's reading is of such a high standard that this constitutes, to my mind, a definitive edition of the story. This reading manages that rare feat of actually improving on the original work. Here's hoping that Iain M. Banks keeps on writing them and that Peter Kenny keeps on reading them!
I have waited a long time for 'Excession' to be available on Audible and was frankly worried that it couldn't be converted into an audio book but I needn't have worried! Peter Kenny's narration is superb, his interpretation of the characters is spot on and the book is wonderfully presented! I believe this to be 'Iain M. Banks' finest work and I have read them all, it is a true Sci-fi masterpiece on an epic scale, the characters, both the ships AI's, as well as the people, both Contact and alien, are well rounded and interesting, you want to hear their stories and you are sad when the book comes to it's thrilling climax! Lets hope there is a sequel soon! 5*
I would listen to this again and again. Its a fantastic story, and performed to perfection. I've read the book several times, and will most definitely listen to this book again and again.
Not only is it a fantastic story in true banks style, but the performance of Peter Kenny is just astounding. Only Peter could take such a challenging book (those that have read the book will understand) and turn it into an fantastic adventure into the culture universe. His range of voices are second to none and his consistency of character personalities and styles boggles the mind. How does he do it! Not only am I a huge fan of Banks, but now a huge fan of Peter Kenny.
This book is one of the funniest in the culture universe. The ships personalities and egos are simply amazing and make this book easily one of banks greatest.
Peter Kenny has done this book an immense justice. The paper version of this book can be hard to read with all the ship names and chatter, but Peter Kenny pulls it off and makes this one of the best audio books I've ever listened to. Well done Peter!
Not bought it yet? Why not!
And really done justice by the reader who is just BRILLIANT. Characters are well voiced, the story is just awesome, I loved it so much when I read it the first time that I turned straight back to the first page and read it all over again. I'm going to do the same with the audio book.
I was so sorry to hear that Iain M. Banks had cancer and wish him all the very best
Ian M Banks has an imagination almost beyond compare. I had not read any of his 'Culture' novels, so did not know what to expect. I don't think this novel would have worked has an audio book without the sheer brilliance of the narrator Peter Kenny.
With its mixture of weired aliens and sentient space ships the size of small planets able to travel at thousands of times the speed of light. The human's seeming to be a only a part of the overall scheme of things. The story is a vast intertwining saga of beauty and madness.
Excession is a story which will appeal to the open minded (or the insane!) Science Fiction fan. For me it was a joy, but be warned, some of you will just not get it!
Clever, clever, clever...
The story is my favourite of the Culture series. I've been a fan from the very beginning, and am only just starting to get into Audiobooks. I was, I must confess a little sceptical that this could be pulled off satisfactorily in this medium - Excession is involved, complex and quite challenging in all kinds of ways. It is, however, simply brilliant. The story's quality shines through, and the performance (for such it is - rather than just a reading) substantially enhanced it.
Peter Kenny's performances (in this, and in other Culture novels - which I'm now working my way through) is utterly brilliant. These novels must present an enormous challenge in the range of characters (human, non-human, machine intelligences etc) who have to be brought to life and differentiated - and he does so with a brilliant range of voices and accents - none of which ever grate (as it would be so easy to do), or do anything other than add to the clarity of the story. It's really amazing.
Of course - but who has got 20 + hours?
Even if you're not a sci-fi fan, then Kenny's readings of the Culture novels will be a joy (although, in all honesty, if you're not a sci-fi fan already, then this is probably not the one to start with!)
There's a lot about the Minds in this Culture classic. And the better for it. As Iain himself said: wouldn't it be nice to have gods like culture minds! Two groups of like minds (ha!) has different ideas on how to manage a particulrly cruel civilization with a incursion from another universe(s) to complicate matters. The usual wheels within wheels stuff with thoughtful genius from Banks throughout
I read the paperback a good few year ago and the audiobook version is great. If you follow the Culture series, then this one is a must with plenty of minds and SC involvement with great creativity!
Great book, best Culture novel along with Use of Weapons, was looking forward to this audio book and it doesn't disappoint. Peter Kenny is brilliant as usual. Just a quick gripe about the review By Lester from Ilford; should you really be accepting reviews from people who haven't even bothered to finish a book before giving a review?
Difficult to say, I tend to consume books and audio books differently but Peter Kenny's reading of the characters often makes it easier to workout who is saying what than it sometimes is while reading without paying a massive amount of attention.
There are so many good characters in the book, both people and ship minds. The Sleeper Service is the star of the show but I quite like the Killing Time for it's no nonsense I'm a warship what do you expect sort of attitude.
Peter Kenny does a superb job of adding a personality to each of the characters in the story (or which there are a great many) and giving each a distinctive voice so it is easy to keep track of who's talking when, particularly if you listen to the story is lots of short spells.
The Grey Area's diving into the mind of the commandant.
I'd read the book almost twenty years ago and in fact I'd listened to the audio book a few years back but decided to re-listen to it recently. I'd forgotten it's sheer magnificent complexity. Things I'm sure I must have missed before stood out. I got to the end and immediately hit play again to go back to the beginning. I really like Peter Kenny's performances reading the Iain M Banks novels, it's good that almost all the books are read by the same actor, I just wish that Audible would fill in the blanks and have him complete the set.
"A perfect team(?) at the top of their game"
Peter Kenny has brought a whole new experience to my understanding the writing of Iain Banks. Mr Kenny seems to have a number of uncanny knacks of what I believe a true storyteller should have, an ancient art form that went out of favour with the invention of the printing press and now, thanks to audio books, is making a comeback.
A little too dissimilar to how Messrs. Kubrick and Clarke created the universe of 2001 apart but together to be comparable, Mr Kenny was not a co-creator yet he is a collaborator. His obvious skill, talent and intelligence as an actor, most essentially I believe with radio-play experience, has given him a gift permitting him to join Mr Banks in 'The Culture' in a way I think few others could hope to achieve.
I would encourage any fan of story telling, whether written word or film or stage play or photojournalism etc., who don't mind a bit of the ol' spec-fic to give this a go. While I believe there are other readings by Mr Kenny as powerful as this, none are better and this will forever remain a performance not to be missed.
"My favourite Culture series book"
Complex, witty and thought-provoking. Ian Banks at his very best. Sleeper Service is surely one the best heroic characters of all his books. I must add that Peter Kenny does the most superb job as narrator. His range of accents and nuanced delivery is delightful I wish he'd get to work on Terry Pratchett's body of work next!
"One of the best Culture books"
Such a good story - the wit of the Minds is fantastic to listen to. Peter Kenny's narration is absolutely flawless.
"Mr Banks on top form"
Mr Kenny is a superb complement to this excellent book. I had to smile as he subtly changes the voice of a character as they moved between sexes. Very slick!
Its up there with "Consider Phlebas" in terms of breadth of story, large ideas and character detail. Compulsive reading for Culture addicts.
See above, but I also liked the conceit of giving the ship minds british regional ( and occasional colonial :-) ) accents that really rather suited their personalities. Really a very impressive rendition.
Hard to imagine it being a film, but I bet it is "the way many people want the future to be", which is the function of good sci-fi; to inspire.
Great writer at the top of his game. If we lose him it will be a big loss to our collective imagination, so my best wishes to the man.
"My Favorite Culture Novel!!"
I first read this novel 20 years ago and just re-read it a second time (as an audiobook) - quite frankly - a little bit skeptical of why I recalled enjoying it so much. What a treat it was to read it again for the first time!
This unique and ground breaking space opera!! The ships themselves are the main characters and the humans are the supporting cast. A really fun read...
The drone action sequence in the opening chapter is one of my favorites... Also Peter Kenny's portrayal of "The Killing Time" is quite perfect!
"Interesting premise ruined by a lame side plot"
Not really about "the excession", just a vessel to tell a dumb story about a mopey hermit lady.
"Good, solid Culture novel."
Different from other Culture novels, but in a refreshing way. The Culture Minds have always been fascinating and this novel focuses on how they interact with humanity - but more importantly - each other, when addressing galaxy-wide matters of importance. It's cool, I enjoyed it.
How on earth does he keep coming up with such amazing insights?
Long book but gripping.
"Whip those Alien asses!"
One of the best books Ive read. It's as good on audio.
Most of Iain Banks books but a bit shorter and snappier
Good story teller
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